Something that reminded Snaga of…which one? She sat on her bed, the Elvish dictionaries all open and spread around her, and tried to remember specific moments that conjured up thoughts of the people she cared about. Well, Arwen was easy. When she thought of Arwen, the first thing she saw in her mind was an Orc pulling off a helmet to reveal long black hair and an Elven face, in the dungeons of Dol Guldur. That was Arwen. Snaga smiled as the image entered her mind. Elrohir…he was easy as well, too easy for her own peace of mind. He was a tall figure on horseback, riding out of Rivendell to Valar knew what fate. But what name could she call herself that would remind her of those moments?
Snaga fell asleep on top of the thickest dictionary, still trying to figure it out. Arwen woke her at midday when she came to her room to help with the name search. “Snaga,” she whispered, shaking her gently to wake her up. “Snaga, wake up, I’ve heard something!”
Snaga drowsily rolled over to face Arwen. “What?” she asked, yawning widely.
“I just thought you’d be interested to hear that the girl who keeps hanging around Elrohir is betrothed,” Arwen said quickly. “I thought it might make you less nervous. And no, I didn’t go ferreting around to find that out. Her parents told me because they wanted to ask me to help her prepare for her wedding.”
“Really?” Snaga sat up, her weariness forgotten. “That’s – I mean, that’s true?”
Arwen crossed her arms in mock horror. “Would I lie to you?” she gasped. Then she smiled. “Yes, it’s true. And just so you know, she’s going to marry that Elf who was staring at you…Luincir, that’s his name…so both worrisome swains are taken care of.”
Snaga sighed loudly, a huge weight off her chest. “Thank you, Arwen,” she said gratefully, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. “And – Arwen, I think I need more help picking a name.”
With a sigh to rival Snaga’s, Arwen dropped into a chair beside the bed and hauled one of the dictionaries into her lap. “That is the other reason that I came,” she pointed out. “What words do you want?”
Hmm…something to remind her of who? What did she think of when she thought of Gandalf?…or Elrond?…or…
Snaga and Arwen were at it for quite some time, accumulating a large word list before Arwen announced that it was time for dinner. Snaga gladly abandoned the interminable dictionaries and followed her to the table, where she ate large amounts of food, and fell asleep instantly.
It was very dark. Snaga recognized the room as her cell in Dol Guldur. It was exactly as she remembered it – small, dark, and cramped, with wet walls and a stench of death and filthiness permeating the cell. Any minute Ghnakh would come with her bowl of food.
She noticed something. There was no barred door for him to come through. The door was a wall – no, there was no door! There was no way to get in or out of the cell! Snaga whirled around painfully, her battered, half-dead body screaming in protest at any motion she made. Galadwen’s voice began to laugh at her from somewhere – somehow she was in the cell with her. Snaga screamed at her to go away, her throat tearing with the sound, but Galadwen only laughed harder. She’s supposed to drop my dagger, Snaga thought. She’s supposed to drop my dagger so I can get free. But Galadwen’s voice withdrew, and there was no dagger.
What was happening to the walls? They were shrinking, closing in on her from all sides to crush her between them…Snaga screamed once more in pure terror –
She sat up, clutching the bedclothes around her, gasping and sweating in the night air coming from her open window. She was in her bedroom, not Dol Guldur. She was lying in bed, the walls were stationary, and Galadwen was dead. Snaga gripped her stomach and her blankets, taking quick, heavy breaths to calm down. She looked carefully around the room, to make sure that she was perfectly safe and alone.
It was too dark. Snaga sprang from her bed and lit the lamp beside it. She also lit the one she kept on top of her closet. Bed lamp in hand, she walked slowly around her room, making sure that nothing was hiding in the corners that were still dark. Then she set the lamp back by her bed and walked to the balcony, tripping over her own feet and still shaking with fear.
Snaga rested her palms against the stone balcony and threw her head back to let the wind run through her hair. It was a nightmare, she thought unsteadily, nothing but a nightmare. “It was a nightmare!” she yelled aloud. Her voice echoed off the houses and came back to her. “It was a nightmare…was a nightmare…nightmare…”
Why did she dream about Mordor? She was free of it. Why in the name of the Valar should it come back and haunt her sleep? Angry, helpless tears caught in her throat and slid down her face. Snaga coughed and wiped her eyes, but still they came, and with them thoughts and images she tried to push aside…The wilderness of Mordor from the viewpoint of being held above the parapet by Shaglush…Two severed fingers lying in a pool of black blood on the stone floor of Sauron’s tower…Sauron himself, the eagerness in his voice as he drew her under the spell of Darya…Galadwen, always Galadwen, with her red eyes and terrifying, insane laugh… “Stop it!” Snaga screamed into the air. “Leave me alone!”
Unbidden, a name flashed across her mind. Galadriel. With the name came the image of a beautiful woman in white descending the stairs of a mallorn to welcome her, and a feeling of safety. Snaga breathed, and only realized then that she’d been holding her breath throughout her thoughts of Mordor. She smiled in spite of her thoughts; a small, weak smile, but a smile. That’s it, she thought. Lothlorien makes me feel safe, and Rivendell makes me feel calm and happy. Her smile deepened as the thought crossed her mind.
Suddenly Snaga jerked into an upright position, taking her hands away from the balcony. What was it that Galadriel had said to her when she and Arwen left Lothlorien? It was important. It felt important that she remember it.
All she could think of was her shock at hearing Galadriel’s voice in her head. But it was something she actually said to me, not just thought to me. Snaga racked her brain, trying to remember. After what she had said to Arwen, that was it. Arwen said something back to her, and then she came to me.
“You have made a difficult passage, maiden of the shining hair, and it is not over yet.” The words returned to her mind out of nowhere. Snaga exhaled in a rush, relieved that she had remembered. A difficult passage…a difficult passage…
She made a beeline back into her room, cheerily lit now by her two lamps, and lifted the heaviest dictionary from her bedside table. Flipping through the pages, she finally found the one she wanted. Her finger ran down the list of words until she saw the one she wanted. Her mind put it together with another word.
Yes. It felt right. It felt perfect. “I found it,” Snaga murmured. She closed the dictionary and whispered toward the balcony, “Thank you, Galadriel.” She tried the sound out – it rolled smoothly off her tongue.
She put the dictionary back onto the table, lay down, pulled up the covers, and slept peacefully the rest of the night.
I’m sorry it’s so short! I thought this one event should have a chapter to itself. And please don’t kill me because I didn’t actually SAY it in this chapter…that’s the next one!